Well, I’ve officially cried over my first … and fifth … lost chicken. We started with ten sweet red hens and half of them have been killed. Coyotes? Hawks? Bear?
No, dogs. Our puppy Molly has eaten three of them and another dog killed two. Cute and careless little boys have gone in to check for eggs and forgotten that dogs will follow them.
Chickens aren’t really pet-like birds, but I’ve gotten attached to these ones because they’re quick to relax around me and gather round clucking and scratching happily. And then I feel just like Cinderella. So I get really sad every time this happens. And, when it’s been my puppy, I get really mad. Yesterday I told Kerry we needed to find a new home for Molly. Somewhere far from any kind of bird.
Pretty sure I said that the last time we had puppy drama too. It usually wears off after a day or so and I’m glad to have her again, but so far Molly and I have had a tumultuous relationship. Mingo just seems to understand that he shouldn’t cause trouble.
Kerry is much more faithful to the pups than I am, and I’m sure he’s right that someday “we’ll be thankful we got both of them.” That might be the day they heroically give up their lives to save my children from an unnaturally large and crazed grizzly bear. Then I’ll weep at their graves and tell the air how sweet and good they were.
Or, that day might come when they’re finally well-trained. Both of them are quite smart (we wouldn’t have known how to look for a smart puppy, so I’m glad we ended up with them), and also quite different. Mingo is very calm and a little quicker to learn. Molly is more of a spitfire. Interestingly, I think Mingo has started training Molly. Today when I told her to come and she tried to run away instead, Mingo grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and gave a little growl.
I’m not ready to do the whole training thing on our own and just hope it turns out ok (especially since our sweet neighbor has free-range chickens and peacocks and I have nightmares about our dogs killing one of them), so I left a message for a dog trainer today to get some advice on how to help our pups become stellar livestock guardians. Maybe we’ll send Molly to boarding school…?
Back to chickens. It is a wonderful mercy that their brains are so small (literally). Though dogs have randomly charged in and terrorized and killed them several times, the survivors don’t seem to remember it. I’ve been taking the dogs into the coop on a leash as much as possible so I can reinforce the “leave it!” (don’t even look at those birds) command, and it only takes the chickens a couple of minutes to start ignoring the dog.